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ASSOCIATES OF MAHATMA GANDHI > VINOBA BHAVE > MY DEAR PRANAV > Education and Spirituality : Development with direction


Education and Spirituality : Development with direction

18th March,1990

My dear Pranav,

Many people have wrong impressions about Gandhian thought. Vinoba expressed all his ideas in the local idiom. The common man in India understood it very easily. But the English-educated have problem in understanding it. Vinoba was a true son of the soil. His roots were deep in the Vedas, the Ramayan and the Mahabharata. He had studied the bhakti poets from all over India. To a common Indian villager he could relate easily, having no barriers. We who learn in English have to make special efforts to understand him because our connection with this land is rather limited.

People felt that Vinoba was against modern science. In fact, he declared from time to time that the modern age would be the age of Science and Spirituality, since Religion and Politcs had become outdated. He also said that Science and Technology are like an engine; taking you anywhere with speed. But they cannot decide the direction. The steering wheel has to be of Spirituality (Adhyatma). Without it, scientific power would become a power for mutual destruction. Many other thinkers of the West such as Arthur Koestler, have expressed the same fear. Koestler even provides world history with a new calendar. 6th August, 1945 is the crucial date when the Atom Bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan at the end of the Second World War. Since then, man has become capable of destroying the human race out of existence (1). Koestler takes that date as the starting point of a new calendar.

Vinoba used to say that in Spirituality we must read the oldest scripture such as the Rgveda. And in Science we must read the latest book. He used to keep himself well informed till 1972. After that, he gave up reading books. He had poor eye-sight and still poorer hearing. He was hit on the ear by those at a temple in Baidyanath in Bihar. They wanted him to visit the temple but not with his Harijan disciples. He refused and was very badly hit on the ear by these temple priests.

Some people asked him on 24th March, 1956 at Vishakhapattanam in Andhra Pradesh whether he wanted to spread electrification in the villages. They thought that as a Gandhian he would have objection to electric power. He replied very simply: "I want even atomic energy for villages. But I am more keen on knowing to whom this power will be supplied. Would it go to the poorest man? Atomic power would first go to cities, then to villages and then to richer villagers, who can pay for it. The poor people would not get it as they need it for lighting. The government would give preference for productive use first."

Vinoba wanted Atomic energy to reach like solar power (sunlight). It reaches first to those who have no roof or no doors to their huts. It warms those first who have no clothes to wear. Vinoba said he wanted atomic power to reach like solar power, which reaches first to those who need it most. We want power generated by the progress of Science. But it must reach the needy man first even though he is the poorest. Increasing the average supply of energy is not enough; the poorest must get it. (2).

With love,

Yours,

L. N. Godbole